World Cup 2014: Cesare Prandelli on a quest to have Italy in peak condition with his blue-chip Azzurri

March 28, 2014

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“Brazil is renowned as the home of joga bonito. But here’s a question: will the conditions allow beautiful football to be played at the 2014 World Cup? Considering the heat and humidity, the games every four or five days, the thousands of kilometres and many hours of travel in addition to the pressure of expectation the answer is: maybe not. Stamina and fitness are likely to be as important if not more so than skill and technique. This has informed the selection policy of Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. He doesn’t just want footballers booked on the plane to Brazil, he wants the best athletes the game has to offer too. That impression only hardened after Italy’s 1-0 defeat to Spain in Madrid at the beginning of this month.” Telegraph – James Horncastle


Know Your Enemy: Portugal left back Fabio Coentrao

March 28, 2014

“Fabio Coentrao was 13 when he joined his local club, Rio Ave. He soon developed as a quick and direct winger, a player with technical ability but also a certain rawness. He made his first-team debut at 16, and by 18 had established himself as a regular for his hometown club, then playing in the Portuguese second division, and earned the nickname the ‘Figo of the Caxinas.’ Rio Ave narrowly missed out on promotion that season but a decent run in the Portuguese Cup brought Coentrao to national attention, particularly when he scored with a 30-yard drive in a 2-1 defeat to Sporting, one of the three traditional giants of the Portuguese game.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


The striker who didn’t need to score

March 28, 2014

“Football supporters generally understand that different players are selected on what they can bring to the side; some wide midfielders are picked for their defensive capabilities over their attacking ones and not every central midfielder is expected to be able to spread the ball out to the wings from forty yards, some are there to tackle opponents and intercept passes. However, one fundamental misunderstanding still exists among a selection of football fans: every forward is picked to score goals.” January 16, 2014 Put Niels In Goal


The Question: have football teams lost the art of defending?

March 28, 2014

“There were 42 goals in the Premier League at the weekend, a bumper crop that, with 16 more in five midweek games, took the average goals per game this season to 2.73. With Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge in devastating form, Manchester City hammering teams all over the place and Fulham shipping hatfuls every week, this has felt like a season of glut.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Can Northern Ireland become UFWC champions?

March 28, 2014

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Uruguay versus Northern Ireland
“The next Unofficial Football World Championships match is just over two months away on the 30 May, and it looks set to be a classic. Two teams with a proud and successful footballing history and plenty of passion will play each other. First ever World Cup winners Uruguay face reigning British Champions Northern Ireland in the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo – the venue where the World Cup began back in 1930. It will be the light blue of Uruguay against the shining emerald green of Northern Ireland.” UFWC


Episode 137: Colón still lead the way, Independiente in meltdown & previewing Boca v River

March 28, 2014

“The hundred-and-thirty-seventh episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam, Peter and Andrés joined by German Dan to discuss an interesting weekend of matches, at the end of which Colón were still top of the Torneo Final pile, and looking increasingly likely to avoid relegation, points deduction or no points deduction. There were surprising results on Saturday and more predictable ones on Sunday, which concluded with a dire goalless draw between Quilmes and Boca Juniors. Boca’s next match is of course at home to their arch rivals River Plate, so as ever we dedicate a chunk of this week’s pod to previewing the superclásico; will River get their first win in La Bombonera in a decade? Can Boca lift their game? We also discuss Dan’s side Argentinos Juniors, and what’s gone wrong for them, and Peter tries to give us a quick lowdown of what mentalness is happening at Independiente this week. All this and more awaits…” Hand Of Pod


Thoughts on policing in Turkey – Football and beyond

March 28, 2014

“Over the past summer, international audiences became aware of severe police violence during Turkey’s Gezi protests. In summer 2013, what started out as a peaceful demonstration in Istanbul to save a public park quickly led to a national uprising against the government. The resistance was marked with intense police violence in the form of tear gas, plastic bullets and pressurized water from cannons. In October 2013, Amnesty International called these actions ‘gross human rights violations’.” Anthropoliteia